As humans, we are continuously told how important daily exercise is for our physical and mental health. The same is absolutely true for our pets! It does not matter the age, size, species or breed, every pet needs daily exercise.

Exercise is a wonderful way to help strengthen your bond with your pet. Pets thrive when given both physical and mental stimulation, and once you establish an exercise routine, it will give your pet something to look forward to each day. Daily exercise helps build confidence, and keeping a healthy routine will help grow and foster the trust your pet has in you.

A tired pet is a well-behaved pet. Many pets do naughty things because they are bored, or do not have appropriate ways to relieve their energy and keep their mind busy. Exercise occupies their mind, allows them to spend quality time with their family, and tires them out, all of which helps to curb unwanted behaviors. It is one of the first things animal behavior specialists recommend for pets who are destructive at home. Pets also typically sleep better if they have daily exercise as a way to rid themselves of all their excess energy.

Active pets are less likely to be overweight. Obesity is at epidemic proportions within our middle age and senior pet populations with approximately 50% of pets in the United States considered overweight. Obesity in pets can lead to issues such as ligament tears and ruptures, arthritis, decreased mobility, respiratory compromise, and endocrine diseases such as diabetes.

In addition to helping prevent obesity, overall health improves with daily exercise. It helps keep the digestive system healthy, cardiovascular function improves, it builds lean muscle, and the overall risk of injury decreases. In fact, studies show that active dogs who maintain a healthy body condition live on average 2 years longer than their overweight peers!

Exercising dogs can include daily walks or runs, hiking, and/or playing fetch outside. On rainy days, puzzle feeders and games can be a great way to mentally stimulate your dog and keep them busy. Keep in mind that even dogs with access to large areas to run do not often get enough exercise if left to their own devices. Exercising pets is most effective when done routinely with their humans. Schedule some time every day to clip that leash on or to go outside with them to throw the ball and you’ll likely notice a positive difference in your pet, and maybe even yourself!

Exercising cats often requires a little more creativity. They are natural predators so many enjoy chasing fishing pole type toys, small balls, laser pointers, or batting feathers. Other cats enjoy toys that allow them to “hunt” for their food such as mice you can fill with kibble and hide or puzzle games to help stimulate them mentally. There are even some cats who are receptive to walking outside in a harness. In addition to these ideas, there is an excellent website called “The Indoor Pet Initiative” through Ohio State University with even more tips and tricks on how to increase your cat’s activity indoors ( No matter what you decide to try, the key is setting aside time every day to actively engage with your cat!

If you need any help putting together an exercise plan for your pet, please do not hesitate to talk to your pet’s veterinarian at their next visit. At Severna Park Veterinary Hospital, we are always happy to talk about ways to increase your pet’s activity to keep them happy and healthy!